RISON — With the Rison defense in control of a 3-0 game late in the third quarter, a long punt return for a touchdown by Junction City
ignited a scoring outburst over the next 7 minutes that sent the Dragons to a 28-9 victory over the Wildcats Friday night.
It was the 8-2A Conference opener for both teams. Rison fell to 0-2, while Junction City improved to 1-1.
It marked the first time since 1976 that Rison has started a season 0-2 and ended a two-game winning streak by the ‘Cats against the
Friday night was the 10th time Coach Clay Totty’s Wildcats have faced Coach David Carpenter’s Dragons since 1998, and in the previous nine meetings Junction City had never failed to rush for more than 100 yards in a game against Rison. However, the Wildcats limited the Dragons to 2 yards on the ground Friday.
But in the previous nine meetings Junction City had passed for a combined total of 145 yards. Friday night, the Dragons went to the air for 234 yards and three touchdowns.
“I’m very proud of our kids,” Totty said. “We showed a lot of improvement from last week against good competition. We still have some things to correct, though.”
Totty agreed that the Dragons’ punt return for a touchdown late in the third period turned the tide against Rison. Prior to that, the Wildcats had opportunities to build on its field goal advantage but failed to cash in before it was too late.
With Rison ahead, 3-0, with less than 3:00 to go in the the third period, JaQwis Dancy returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown and Shaquille Hunter added the extra point to make it 7-3 at the 2:35 mark of the period.
Moments later the Wildcats failed to cover the ensuing kick and Junction City covered at the Rison 35.
Two plays later, Hunter teamed up with Jamario Bell on a 20-yard touchdown pass. Hunter tacked on the PAT kick to make it 14-3 with 1:28 remaining in the third period.
After a holding penalty killed a Wildcat drive, the Hunter-Bell combination clicked again on an 80-yard touchdown strike. JarKell Brown booted the first of his two extra points to send the score to 21-3 on the opening snap of the final quarter.
A 37-yard pass from Hunter to Dorian Evans on third and 14 to put Junction City at the Rison 39, followed by a 22-yard touchdown aerial from Hunter to Brown on fourth-and-8 pushed the Dragons’ lead to 28-3 at the 6:58 mark of the fourth period.
Quarterback Nathan Wilson of Rison went over on a quarterback sneak from a yard out with 2:34 left in the game to make it 28-9.
The Wildcats had several opportunities to put points on the board, but the Dragon defense stiffened each time to keep Rison out of the end zone.
Rison marched inside the Junction City 15 in the opening period before things bogged down at the 11. So on the first snap of the second period, Zuntario Oliver booted a 28-yard field goal to give the ‘Cats a 3-0 lead.
Another time-consuming drive by the Wildcats from their own 16 to the Junction City 30 ended on an incomplete pass with 2:33 left in the half. On the second play of the third quarter, Jordan Mason covered a Dragon fumble at the Junction City 34.
After picking up a first down at the 23, the ‘Cats could get no closer and a fourth down pass at the goal line fell incomplete with 8:39 to go in the third period. One play later, Todd Bowie pounced on a Junction City fumble at the Dragons’ 15. After reaching the 9 for fourth and four, Oliver failed on a 27-yard field goal attempt to leave the score 3-0 at the 7:04 mark of the third quarter.
Following an exchange of punts, things started to unravel in a hurry for the Wildcats, as they never got near the Junction City goal line again until the the Dragons had the game in hand.